ActionAid Nigeria (AAN)

Some civil society groups have raised concerns about spike in criminal activities ranging from armed banditry, abductions and killings, especially in the northern and central parts of the country.

ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), an international not-for-profit organisation, described the trend of insecurity in the country as alarming.

The group, in a statement signed by its country director, Ene Obi, Thursday, said the increasing rate of kidnap-for-ransom in the country could further undermine stakeholders’ efforts at reducing the rate of out-of-school children in Nigeria, particularly, the girl-child.

“Insecurity is still on the rise in Nigeria, with many records of insurgency attacks, kidnapping, armed banditry abductions and killings, with scores of deaths both within the military and civilians, especially in the Northern and central part of the country.

“The rising cases of abduction of school children is (are) alarming and will further disparage stakeholders’ efforts at reducing the rate of out-of-school children in Nigeria, particularly, the girl-child. Schools are now seemingly unsafe for girls and give parents undue justification to force their girl-child into an early marriage.”

The organisation called on state governments to prioritise improved security for children in schools and a quality educational system.

“We also call on security agencies to adopt intelligence, power, and non-financial negotiation to bring back the remaining 112 missing Chibok girls and one Dapchi girl, Leah Shuaibu,” the statement added.

In a related development, the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) said “insecurity in Nigeria has become routine and endemic, and in recent times have assumed pandemic proportions, posing an existential threat to the country and her people.”

The group, led by Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated this in a communique issued at the end of its Wednesday’s virtual meeting.

The meeting was the with theme, ‘Insecurity and the Failure of Governance in Nigeria; Exploring the causes and options for Transformation’.

The group, in the communique signed by Falana and shared with newsmen on Thursday, said failure of the government and the ruling class to cater for the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens, was what resulted in the high incidence of criminality in the country over the years.

“It was established that there is a direct nexus between the calamitous collapse of the welfare and wellbeing of the people, and the current pandemic scale of insecurity in the country.

“In this case, it is clear that the idle, hungry, and alienated mind is the workshop of the devil.

“To be sure, it is clear from the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended [1999 CFRN] in chapter two, section 14, subsection 2, b, that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

“On this measure alone, there can be no doubting the fact that there is unfolding before our eyes, a catastrophic failure of governance, itself the direct result of the cataclysmic failure of the collective leadership of the ruling class.

“There is no easier way to put it; the ruling class has failed collectively, in its role of providing class leadership, and on such a scale as to threaten the collective existence of the country and the people.”

As part of the solution, ASCAB called for the decentralisation of policing through “establishment of policing jurisdictions at national and sub-national levels”.

The group also suggested that the criteria for recruitment into these decentralised and devolved policing authorities “must be residency and citizenship, and not indigenship to avoid the proliferation of legal ethnic policing formations, which are a potential danger to the cohesiveness of the country.”

ASCAB also called for the “Adoption and rigorous implementation by the policing authorities of the strategic operational approach of community policing, enabling the active and proactive participation of citizens and communities in ensuring their security and safety.

Incessant killings and kidnapping for ransom have been on the increase in recent time with security forces appearing helpless to deal with them or nip them in the bud.

Newsmen had reported how nearly 300 schoolgirls were abducted last week by unidentified gunmen during a raid on Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Northeastern state of Zamfara.

The state government on Tuesday announced the release of about 279 of the abducted schoolgirls, debunking an initial figure provided by authorities that 317 girls were kidnapped.

The latest attack was the third mass kidnapping of schoolchildren in the last three months in the north.

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